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Forum for New Teachers of World History

Ane Lintvedt


     I still can remember my first year teaching World History. I spent every evening with four or five college textbooks spread open on my dining room table, trying to create tomorrow's lesson. I was trained as a European historian and I knew nothing about Asian, African, Latin American, and arguably North American history if it didn't relate directly to a European event. Although I had been teaching for 15 years at that point, I was back to being a rookie teacher with no mentor, no background, no curriculum, and classes five days a week for thirty weeks.

     In the intervening ten years, I have learned a lot of World History, and I have thoroughly enjoyed it, although for that first year, maybe not so much. Almost all veteran World History teachers tell a version of the first-year horror story, and therefore many of us had dedicated part of our professional lives to trying to help the next generation of teachers ease into World History a little less abruptly than we did.

     This very journal was conceived by teachers as a vehicle to provide high quality information about teaching and learning World History at no cost over the internet. The current Forum for New Teachers is designed to be a Workshop-in-a-Box for those who cannot attend a weekend or summer workshop, and for any teacher who need a bit of help and inspiration in the daunting daily task of teaching a thorough World History class. The WHC editors plan to continue to add to this Forum over time, creating a rich repository for teachers.

     All of the contributors to this Forum are experienced teachers, stalwart AP exam readers, and veteran summer workshop facilitators. Bill Strickland and Monty Armstrong have contributed priceless pearls of wisdom and expertise. Bill's essay and accompanying appendices are worth their weight in gold for any new teacher of World History, and more experienced teachers should find inspiration, validation, and more than one pièces-de-résistance in his thorough examples and explanations of the basics of a World History course. Monty's "Nuts and Bolts" essay complements Bill's very nicely, with his explanation of how to plan a year and the myriad of learning devices one can employ to great benefit in order to make both the teaching and learning of World History a bit more manageable.

     The Forum includes three essays on creating assessments. Curt Greeley has researched ways to streamline the grading of essays which also has the marked benefit of focusing student learning on content and skill acquisitions. Laurie Mannino and I tackle the writing of multiple-choice questions in much the same vein, encouraging the teaching and learning of themes and skills as well as content. I discuss how to evaluate historical thinking skills through multiple-choice assessments, while Laurie's contribution is directed at teaching students to write the same kind of assessments. Laurie's emphasis on fostering students' active learning is nicely complemented by Wendy Eagan's essay on Socratic Seminars. Wendy fosters independent, active learning among her students by asking them to take on the research, the organization, and the presentation of course information, with their subsequent accomplishments assessed through seminars rather than written exercises. These three essays provide teachers with ways to improve their own skills in creating content- and skills-rich courses, as well as creating better assessment vehicles for their students.

     Sharon Cohen and Jay Harmon present articles and thoughtful assignments that address the teaching and learning of two particularly difficult historical thinking skills: Sharon addresses the concept of change and continuity over time and Jay's work addresses the issues of wrestling with philosophy. Sharon's article documents the difficulties students have with comprehending the big concepts involved with analyzing changes and continuities over time and place in World History. She offers, as she calls it, an "intervention" in the form of an annotated timeline as a solution to some of the students' dilemmas. Jay Harmon's essay explains the virtues of using the novel Sophie's World as a summer reading assignment for high school students entering an AP World History course. Historians often use novels or excerpts from novels to give more dimension, voice, or point-of-view to a particular period of time, and Jay has developed an exemplary lesson to guide less-experienced students thoughtfully through a rich philosophical novel. Certainly, new and experienced teachers can use his lesson as a template for creating one's own set of lessons based on a novel.

     I hope that you will be inspired by the wealth of knowledge and information that is presented here, and I hope you will share these resources with your friends and colleagues. Be sure to check back on the WHC site frequently as other talented teachers' work will add to the wealth of this collection. I would like to thank my friends and colleagues and co-editors for their contributions to this Forum. I can be reached at



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